Author Archives: lrobinson

How an our Online Career Test for High School Students Can Make a Difference

There are a lucky few students who have known exactly what they want to do when they grow up since elementary school. Even when they encounter those questions about their own identity and future in middle and high school, they remain true to their calling. However, this is not the case for the vast majority of teens. Many of them have very little idea about what their gifts will prepare them for, as they are simply dealing with all of the day-to-day pressures of spending their days in classrooms, interacting with other teens who are just as confused as they are, and then heading to entry level jobs, activities and then home to finish that schoolwork for the next day. This is where an online career test for high school students can be quite useful.

You might think that sitting down for another test is just a waste of time. However, nothing could be further than the truth. The purpose of taking a career test is to figure out the things that you like to do most and have the most skills with. The questions in our test are not designed to measure your skills. Instead, the questions simply elicit responses about the things that you might want to spend your life doing. The questions might seem to be a little bit more vague than that, but we’ve found that asking students directly, “So, what do you want to do with your life?” doesn’t really get answers that are helpful, because the question is simply too large to answer at once.

How an our Online Career Test for High School Students Can Make a Difference

The type of work that is available to many high school students is not the sort that provides a great deal of motivation. Working a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant or selling clothes in a retail store can often be a real grind, without giving you a view of what you want out of life. It’s true that there are a select few who advance to become general managers of fast food restaurants or clothing stores, but that’s not what everyone wants to do, and it may not be what you want to do.

An online career test for high school students is designed to help you view the things you are doing over the long term. Instead of making decisions for the next week or month, taking this sort of test and considering what your long-term options are help you see the steps you are going to make going forward. Working at a clothing store may not be glamorous, but it helps you build your customer service, sales and communication skills. It is a first stepping stone to put on your resume when you are ready to think about doing something with more responsibility, and that is more like what you see yourself doing.

Our online career test for high school students have helped many teens start looking at life through a more long-term lense and view their lives as more of a journey and less of a march. We look forward to making you our next satisfied customer!

How You Can Help Your Teen or Young Adult Develop a Strong Self Concept and Discover Career Strengths

Most parents of teenagers know that life can be an “emotional roller coaster.” One minute a young people can feel that they are on top of the world, and the next second they are certain that they are have no strengths whatsoever, have nothing to offer anyone.

As a career coach who does career testing for high school students and career testing for college students I know that the emotional “ups and down” of career exploration should be dealt with in a positive way. During our first session I will often ask teens and young adults what their greatest career fear is. They frequently say that they are afraid that they will never find that perfect occupation, will flounder around as a total failure, live forever without career satisfaction. The list of fears is long because the job market is often an unknown place to them, and they have no idea of their relative worth. They have been watching adults struggle in this most recent economic downturn, and they wonder how they can find their places at this point in time.

One of the techniques I have found to be most helpful is to ask the young person to come up with a list of potential interviewees (mentors), people who they respect who have positive empowering, attitude. They can be people that they know through school (teachers, other students), work, extracurricular activities (coaches, dance teachers), and friends and family members. I ask them to “mix it up,” with some people in each category. Then they ask them to answer the following questions.

  • What personal characteristics do you feel are my strengths? (Examples: loyalty, dependability)
  • What skills do you feel are my strengths? (Examples: listening skills, organizational skills)
  • What careers/ do you feel would suit me?

I often give this activity as a homework assignment. In years past, my clients would interview individuals over the phone or in person. Now, they email all their contacts or use Facebook, and they bring in many responses. They usually come back to see me beaming with pleasure because they have read many wonderful things about themselves. They are surprised that contacts you do not know each other often say the same thing. I tell them that repeating patterns in career work are often very important. Perhaps, both their teacher and their coach feel that they have leadership qualities or have a talent for interacting with others. These are excellent skills and qualities, ones that can suggest future careers, perhaps in management or social services and counseling. They also receive some wonderful career suggestions from the people that they values, and these careers can be researched at a later date on a variety of helpful career websites.

Young people, and individuals of all ages benefit from learning about themselves, getting to know what skills and traits they have that could be the beginnings of formulating what careers might be best for them. It can also give them courage as they begin to face the adult world of career choice.

A second question that I ask at the beginning of an interview is to describe their greatest career hopes. Young people hope that they will find a career that suits their talents, a job that they love, one that is a natural fit. They often want to do something meaningful, get up every day and look forward to their job. I assure them that this is possible, but it takes time and a series of steps to do this. Gathering feedback, which is one of the first steps, helps them to understand about one’s skills and talents. This assignment is the beginning of making their hopes a reality.
Linda Robinson, M.Ed, is a professional career coach who does career testing in Atlanta and on line. She has over 25 years of experience, helping young people to fine satisfying careers.

By Linda Robinson, M.Ed. | Career Coach

How You Can Help Your Teen or Young Adult Develop a Strong Self Concept and Discover Career Strengths

Parents You Can Help Your Teens with Career Choices.

Parents want their children to be safe and secure as they venture out in the world as adults.  As a career coach who is very interested in career testing for high school students and young people in general I have observed how critical a parent’s role is.   One of the most important ways to help a child  choose the right major, school or career is to guide, but not pressure, them into making an informed decision.

College students change majors, often many times.  How are they able to select a major and career, if they have no life experience to help them?   It is an expensive activity to change majors and it often results in time and credits lost.   If a child enters college or technical school with an understanding of what the career option might offer, he or she can make a choice that is right for them.

To assist with this process there are several things a parent can do, starting in the middle school years..

Encourage volunteer work, extracurricular school activities, and part time jobs.  The more exposure a child gets to different tasks and work environments, the more she or he can decide if this is a good fit.   Young people develop a “career anchor,” which is when one is comfortable and satisfied with work.  The main way people define their anchor is to “try things on for size,” to see if they are happy and do well working with their hands on a project or selling a product for a school fund-raiser.

Try to reduce the pressure on the child.  Many adolescents become immobilized during the career search process; They feel that they have to select that “one perfect career,” that will match their every needs.   Since the current generation is expected to change careers multiple times in their lifetimes, there is no way to make that perfect, “forever,” selection.  I have always called my practice, “First Choices,” because I believe that the first career is only that first step in a world which will offer many opportunities, chances to shine and be noticed, and offered a path that might not even be anticipated today.    The more the parents can recall what it was like to be a teen trying to make one’s first adult decision, scared and unsure about what is right,  the less pressure will be exerted.  This gives room for a child’s own interests and desires to surface.

Get mentoring support.    Help your child be in situations where a more experienced family friend, teacher, community member or leader can offer advice and counsel.    Professional assistance through school guidance offices or private career coaches can be extremely useful in pointing out different paths and explaining the reality of many professions.

Assist your child in doing online research.  There are websites, such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook online at http://www.bls.gov/oco and  America’s Career Info Net at www.acinet.or which can inform about different career options, the typical duties, responsibilities and training, if the profession is growing or shrinking, the jobs with the most openings, the highest pay, etc.  There are excellent websites that can show what careers may be prepared for through different college majors.  Just keyword search “What can I do with a major in?” and there is a great deal of information available.  It can be fun to explore these websites with your child, learning together all the options which are offered.

Make sure he or she starts networking at an early age.  Encourage your child  to get to know different professionals from a variety of fields. Often young people are a bit shy about talking to adults, letting them know their special talents or desires. This is where parents can help.   Over 75% of jobs are found through contacts, people who may know others who are decision makers, have hiring power.   Encourage your child to keep in touch with anyone who helps along the way.  In the far future, he or she may be the one who knows about the perfect job lead when your child is ready to job search.

Taking those first steps is a very exciting and frightening time for a youth.   Although he or she might not say so, they are taking cues from parental activities and attitudes.  If career exploration is viewed as an exciting adventure, but one where information and contacts help make choices, your child will be able to develop the confidence to make an excellent decision. If it is assumed that he or so will success, do well in a career, find a niche, a child will take on that winning attitude.

 

Teens with Career Choices

Develop a state of the art resume

It is important to create a state of the art resume. The purpose of a resume is not to get a job; it is to obtain an interview,, that all important first step. In that interview you will be able to give much more detail about your accomplishments, show the great employee that you could be.  But first, you have to be chosen to receive that “face time.”  As a career coach in Atlanta and online, I see many of my clients lose sleep over their resume.   A little background knowledge about how resumes can work to your advantage can be calming.

If you are submitting your resume online (and believe me that is the least effective way to search), you have to gain understanding of how employers select candidates.    Employers use resume screening software in order to sort through the hundreds of candidates that apply on line.  To be selected you have to develop a list of keywords to place on your resume.  They can be verbs or nouns, but they are often very specific.  The best way to find out your keywords is to scan job postings for the type of job that you are seeking.  It is wise to target each resume to the type of job that you are seeking, which can be usually done through cutting and pasting.  You can use websites such as wordle.net where you can past on your job ads, and they will create a “word cloud,” which will show you pictorially the most important words.   Keywords for an accounting assistant job could be reconciled (verb) or accounts receivable (noun).

You will also want to decide which type of resume to use.  The three main resume styles are functional (skill based, often good for re-entry employees since it highlights skills more than recent jobs), chronological (lists employer most recent to least recent) and combination.  Whatever style you chose, you need to make sure the resume is grammatically correct and proof read, so it will not be immediately rejected.

Remember,  be patient and persistent.  Remember, to some extent job searching is a “numbers game,” so the more times your high quality resume is viewed, the greater your chances to be invited to an interview.

You have more career strengths than you may realize.

I am adding onto my last job search tip, where I discussed focusing on your strengths.   As a career coach in Atlanta and online I often meet people who are returning to the work force and those who are brand new in the market.  Both groups may have a difficult time defining their strengths. They don’t give themselves credit for their accomplishments.

I advise them; Think of past examples that highlight your strengths.  Your strongest skills are the foundations for your resume, on line profiles and interviews.  Take some time and think of specific examples of things that you did to show an employer that you have demonstrated those skills in your past. It does not necessarily have to be on a job.  For example, suppose you are excellent at recruiting or fund-raising as a volunteer.  You could say that you were able to recruit a large percentage of your neighbors to join a neighborhood watch committee.  And perhaps you could even guess at the percentage.  You could quote the fact that you were able to inspire people to donate 15% more on the United Way campaign than in the previous year.  Employers love things to be quantifiable.  If you are just graduating from college you might want to talk about the success of a group project that you led, what you did, and how you succeeded, earned an A for the team.  Managers are eager to not make a hiring mistake, which is very costly, so the more you can assure them that you have the skills to do the job, have succeeded in the past, the more likely you will be the one that they remember.